Would Hamlet be better if it had a happy ending?
August 8, 2011 10:05 AM Subscribe
posted by filthy light thief (21 comments total)
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This past July marked the 253rd birthday of Thomas Bowdler
, English physician and source of the eponym bowdlerise (or bowdlerize), through his family-friendly editing
of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
), which was written originally by English historian Edward Gibbon. Though Thomas' name is on the later editions of The Family Shakespeare
, it was his sister, Henrietta Maria Bowdler
(commonly called Harriet), who actually excised the texts
and removed about 10% of the original text that which she felt "cannot with propriety be read aloud in family." Some sample comparisons of the edits can be seen here
. With that, Henrietta (and Thomas) earned a place in the ranks of Shakespeare editors
Harriet was believed to be a member of the Bluestockings Circle
, which started as a London-based group, but "developed into a broader social and literary network in which friendship, charity and female education were celebrated as the foundation of modern civilised society."
The story of the Henrietta Bowdler and her family were recently made into a play, The Family Shakespeare, which ran in April 2011